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By Debbie le Quesne

Damning report by CQC: ‘Lessons still not learned’

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The Care Quality Commission has issued a damning report that says more than half a million elderly people are being admitted to hospital with conditions which could have been avoided if they had not been neglected by GPs, care homes and social services.

This pulls no punches and as you’d expect the headlines are everywhere.

Complaints such as malnutrition and bedsores are the source of some admissions, so says the Daily Telegraph.

But what I find most troubling is that the CQC report says the NHS has not still not learned from the Mid-Staffs scandal.

The newspaper online report says: “The CQC said hospitals have made “no improvement” in monitoring the quality of care, nor in ensuring that patients are kept safe or treated with dignity and respect.

“Inspectors were ‘alarmed’ to see the way patients were treated.”

The study found the number of older people being admitted to hospital in an emergency, with conditions which could have been avoided – such as pneumonia, malnutrition and pressure sores – is far outstripping the growth in the older population.

Clearly we need more primary intervention and if the government is serious about fostering a community-based approach to care, we clearly need fiscal policy to make it happen.

Quoted in the article, David Behan, chief executive of the CQC, says: “Those responsible for care in local areas need to work together quickly to address the number of avoidable emergency admissions to hospital.

“GPs, care homes, home care agencies, community health services and hospitals, with local commissioners, must plan effectively to make sure our older and more vulnerable people are cared for in the way they deserve.”

Domiciliary care providers generally do an excellent job of flagging up potential problems with clients. But the access points to this kind of care are often far too complex for the elderly to navigate and there is still a pervading fear that “involving social services will put you in a home.”

I agree with Norman Lamb, the care services minister, that “there are no excuses for services failing to keep people safe and free from neglect.”

Truth is, we still have a problem. Our care providers are often creative – they have to be to juggle the poor financial rewards of social services funded care.

I know of one care home developer who is looking to engage the local elderly in flu-jab clinics, and create a hub for other health services at his new home.

And there are domiciliary providers who desperately want to deliver more care, but time contracts and tight financial margins dictate disciplined schedules.

I can think of very few carers who don’t want to offer more.

The CQC report serves as a reminder we still have a long way to go on the road of care reform.

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